In February 2012, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State—finally making it possible for gay and lesbian couples to secure the same rights as heterosexual couples regarding relationships. Just as the marriage equality law gave gay and lesbians the right to marry, it also gave them better legal positioning in cases of divorce and child custody.
Is Same-Sex Child Custody Different?
Under the law, same-sex child custody cases should be exactly the same as other child custody cases. The courts treat both parents the same, and together the group comes up with a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child or children.
However, it would be naïve to say that these custody cases don’t differ from those of heterosexual couples. First of all, it is impossible for same sex couples to both be biological parents of the child. In many cases, a child is from a previous relationship or artificial insemination. In other cases, the child has been adopted by one or both of the parents. Even if both parents have raised the child since birth and have been equally involved in the parenting, the non-biological parent may struggle for what they see as a just child custody solution.
Discrimination Still Exists, Even If it Is Not the Law
Washington is one of the first states to pass marriage equality laws and the state has a number of antidiscrimination laws that specify equal rights for gay and lesbian residents. Washington State also allows the joint adoption of children by LGBT couples.
Although these laws are in place, it is still important to understand that personal prejudices and biases still exist—even in the courtroom. It is vital that gay and lesbian parents making a parenting plan are aware of these issues and know their rights under the law.
Contact a Seattle Same-Sex Child Custody Attorney
Same-sex child custody cases can by complex, both because of adoption issues and because of prejudice and discrimination. If you are seeking child custody after a same-sex divorce or break-up, you may need the assistance of an experienced Washington child custody attorney. To learn more about your rights—and about your case—contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today at 425-460-0550.